Back Cover Blurb (taken from Joey W. Hill's website)
Some destinies are made to be denied… As the Prime Legion Commander for the Goddess, Jonah has been battling the Dark Ones for centuries. He has led countless angels into battle, and has seen too many of them slaughtered. Now, his noble spirit has begun to tire with the weight of endless war—which allows aDark One to strike a blow that severs his wing and knocks him into the sea.
Anna is a Daughter of Arianne — a direct descendant of the mermaid whose poignant legend and lore is much darker and more complex than the human-made fairytale. For tragedy and isolation are the fate of all the Daughters of Arianne. Anna’s longing for love compels her to risk her very life to protect and hide the fallen Jonah. And the longer Jonah delays his return to the heavens, the more Anna’s secret passions are tempted.
Anna knows that Jonah’s destiny lies beyond her desire—and that if she repeats her ancestor’s mistakes, heartache will be her only reward. But as she falls more in love with him, Anna wonders if she’s destined to lose her heart and her dreams to save Jonah’s soul…
Joey W. Hill proves herself to be a master storyteller in 'A Mermaid's Kiss'. Her lyrical prose is nothing short of magical in it's ability to be both superbly dark and richly erotic while retaining it's fairy tale essence. As a long time fan of the Disney version of 'The Little Mermaid', I've also been aware that the true tale foretells a much more tragic ending whereby the mermaid doesn't marry her prince but instead perishes cursed and broken-hearted. Ms. Hill expands upon this darker original with tragedy destined to fall upon all descendants of Arianne.
Jonah, Angel and Prime Legion Commander of the Goddess, has lived a long life drenched in destruction, death, and blood. Having survived a war-torn millennia, Jonah's soul has slowly tarnished with the very darkness he's been fighting and thereby corrupting his faith and love in the Lady. After being mortally wounded in battle, Jonah plunges into the ocean with a sigh of relief; grateful that he can finally find some peace in death. His hopes are thwarted though by a brave and beautiful little mermaid.
Anna, a Daughter of Arianne and therefore doomed to tragedy, is still a woman of hope and love. Cursed with the ability to shapeshift into a human, she's lived the life as a being with no true place in the world, an outcast, but one capable of compassionate love and fierce loyalty. Unlike the female ancestors before her, Anna accepts her fate in life to live without reciprocal love while at the same time yearning for it above all else. Given her self-sacrificing nature, it is no surprise that she risks her life from the very beginning for an angel bent on his own destruction.
Despite having lived for a 1000 years, Jonah has never truly sought to understand his own soul. The consuming thoughts of war have blotted out the light of the Lady, leaving his heart to ponder and question his own existence and role in the universe. Humans, the Lady's to protect and therefore Jonah's to protect, cease to be nothing other then rats destroying everything in their path. The evil doings of humans call to the Dark Ones, thus rising the armies of angels; guarding them despite the fact that it's this very evil, festering within the human soul, that makes the Dark Ones very existence possible. Jonah is tired of fighting for those that continue to call to the Dark Ones and suffer the inevitable deaths of his sons for the guilt of their loss weighs heavily upon his conscience. He has lost all hope and all reason to fight and to exist.
Recognizing the darkness within Jonah, Anna makes the decision to help him at any cost, even her own death. She enlists the help of the seawitch, Mina, and with her guiding visions, Anna convinces Jonah to embark on a journey that will lead her further and further away from her beloved ocean.
Jonah decides to accompany Anna and her pursuit of the healing powers of a human shaman not because he wishes to eradicate the poison within him, but because he has found some measure of contentment with Anna. Jonah, though an angel, is not noble. Selfishly, he chooses to drift along on this journey with a self-sacrificing little mermaid because it relieves him of having to think beyond the now. Anna provides for him a route of escapism and monetary respite for his ugly thoughts. He truly feels that a shaman, a human no less, can not heal his rotted soul and there are several points throughout the journey where Jonah tries to drive Anna away from him and their mission. Some readers may a bit put off by Jonah's evil and the pain he inflicts upon Anna without apology. Yet, what readers must remember is that Jonah is existing in the darkest time of his life. He's the most cynical of cynics. He is a man lost and resolved to never put forth the effort to find his way back into the arms of light and love. When considering his dry well of love filled with bitterness, one can only expect him to lash out and protect his already wounded soul. Jonah no longer holds the belief of goodness and it's Anna's complete embodiment of that which he now shields himself from in any way possible without completely loosing his view of her. Instead he'll follow along with Anna because what's a week to his thousand year existence in which he can put off his own demise? It is this that makes Jonah the anti-hero, but a hero none the less.
Conversely, Anna has already conquered the blood of the past and the terms of her Fate. She stands before Jonah untainted and pure of light and love. Her hope for future love is not crushed on the weight of her predestined fate. Anna is by far the most self-sacrificing creature in Hill's world. She gives repeatedly of herself to Jonah in an unflagging hope that he'll once again see how important and how needed his is on Earth and in Heaven. Anna believes in Jonah so much that she literally gifts her heart to him in a very literal sense. By sacrificing her essence, her blood, and ultimately her heart to Jonah, she in turn gives him back his reason to be and live once again. Now that's love.
I feel it's necessary to point out that 'A Mermaid's Kiss' features a variety of sex scenes that call for an openmindness within the reader. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about the scene involving Jonah making love to Anna in her mermaid form but Hill pulls it off with such vital realism that it just comes across as natural for the characters to experience that activity in that way. There is also very light BDSM. Not with regards to the whips and chains version but more in the way Jonah and Anna address one another. Jonah is constantly "my lord" while Anna is "little one". I interpreted this as Anna giving Jonah the respect that his Dominant position called for while her being dubbed "little one" a reminder of her submissive role. There was also the fact that Anna became aroused when Jonah demanded she do something a certain way underlying once again the D/s relationship. Again though, these were the only references to Hill's revered BDSM knowledge.
'A Mermaid's Kiss' is definitely my first favorite of 2009. It's a shining example of Ms. Hill's amazing talent and I look forward to picking up it's sequel 'A Witch's Beauty'.
Interested in more novels by Joey W. Hill? Check out my reviews of Ice Queen and Mirror of My Soul.